Confounded Chores, Compounded Chores


I hate laundry, especially folding it. Don’t really know why, there is nothing horrible about the act of folding per se. Just don’t like it, would rather do something else with my time.

Your chore pet peeve might be doing dishes, or vacuuming, or taking out the trash, mowing the lawn. Or, I don’t know, perhaps going to work. Whatever. We all have stuff we have to do that we don’t particularly like.

What if you could do a lifetime of that chore in one go? What if you could take out one massive pile of trash in trade for never having trash duty again? If you could do one really huge pile of dishes and never have to do them again, would you? Or take one super long shower, and smell great for the rest of you life, no matter the amount of sweat, dirt, and filth you crawled through during your life?

What activity would you do a lot of upfront to never have to do again?

Let’s look at something you do every day.


Let’s assume you brush your teeth twice a day (you do brush your teeth twice a day I hope). Each time you brush for 2 minutes, or 4 minutes per day. Now, let’s take an estimate for the average life expectancy in the US of 78.74 years.

4 minutes a day, 365 days a year, 78.74 years. That’s 114,960 minutes, or almost 1916 hours you’ll spend brushing your teeth over an average lifetime. That’s 80 whole days of your life dedicated to brushing teeth, or enough time to go around the world as in Jules Verne’s adventure novel Around The World in 80 Days.

But of course you can’t stay awake for 80 days in a row, just like you probably can’t stay awake reading that awful book. Even if you are motivated and trying to set some sort of record, you’d probably fall asleep sometime around day 11.

Let’s say instead you were to brush your teeth 16 hours a day, leaving time for sleep and food and dealing with your bloody gums. It would take about 120 days to do a lifetime’s worth of brushing. If you could do 120 days of brushing to never have to brush your teeth again, would you do it? I’m guessing that’s not likely a trade anyone would be willing to make.


Speaking of sleep, let’s assume the average person sleeps 8 hours a day (in your reality it’s probably less than that, but in my ideal hypothetical world everyone always gets a nice round 8 hours)

Using that same 78.74 average lifetime, that works out to 229,920 hours of sleep, or 9580 days, or about 26 years.

What if you could store up on all of the sleep you needed for the rest of your life in one go? Would you do it? Again, my money is on no.

But what if you could break it up into convenient chunks and choose when to sleep and when to be awake, so long as your total in the end was around 26 years. You could sleep through all those awkward teenage years, sleep through this awkward presidency, and maybe catch up on the rest when you’re really old. Would you change how you sleep if you could?

I might do that. And come to think of it, my grandfather does sleep a lot.


If you could work really hard for a while, and then never have to work again, would you do it? Or maybe instead work in chunks, with mini retirements in between?

First let’s look at how much someone will work over a lifetime.

Let’s be really nice and assume our hypothetical person doesn’t do a day of work until after graduating college at age 22. That person then works a full career and then retires at the full retirement age of 66. That makes for 44 years of working, let’s again be nice and call it just 40 hours a week, 50 weeks a year. That’s 88,000 hours of work, 3666 full days, or about 10 full years of life.

Wow. 10 years is a lot of time.

Of course, you can’t work 24 hours a day. But if all you did was work, sleep and eat you could probably do about 16 hours a day, which would be 15 years if you basically never took any time off.

That sounds shity. And I imagine no sane person would choose to do that.

You could just default to the normal path and work 8 hours a day 5 days a week for 44 years. But that’s also shitty. We need to come up with better way.

Compounding Interest

The good news is that there is a really easy way to avoid a lot of work, even if you don’t make a ton of money. Compounding interest can free up years of your life, especially when you front load more work towards the beginning of your life. Work a bit extra, preferably early in your career, invest the excess, wait for it to compound, and never have to work again.

Or you can work in large chunks, and save up enough to take nice sabbaticals in between. Or you can work a normal 40ish hour week for a long, long time. It’s up to you. But working is the only chore you can easily control when and how much you want to do. And it’s all thanks to the magic of compounding interest.

Now if only I could come up with an easier way to get my pile of laundry folded.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *